Updated: 04/01/2018 by Computer Hope

Alternatively referred to as the squiggly or twiddle, the tilde is a character ( ~ ) on keyboards below the escape or Esc key. It is located on the same key as the back quote that resembles a squiggly line. The graphic gives a representation of how the tilde character may appear when typed.

Where is the tilde key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the tilde key highlighted in blue.

Tilde key

How to create the ~ symbol

Creating the ~ symbol on a U.S. keyboard

To create the tilde symbol using a U.S. keyboard hold down the Shift key and press tilde key. The key is located on the same key as the back quote ( ` ), directly below the Esc key, in the top-left portion of the keyboard.

Creating the ~ symbol on a smartphone or tablet

To create a tilde on a smartphone or tablet open the keyboard and go into the numbers (123) and then (#+=) or symbols (sym) section and then press your finger on the ~ symbol.

What is a tilde is used for on a computer?

Below are a few examples of how and when the tilde is used.

  1. In languages such as Spanish and Portuguese, the tilde is a diacritical mark that is placed over a letter such as 'ñ' and 'ã' to help emphasize the letter.
  2. Shorten long file names in Microsoft Windows 95 above. For example, changing the "Program Files" directory to the "Progra~1" directory.
  3. In regular expressions, the tilde can be used for pattern matching.
  4. In C programming languages, the ~ represents a bitwise NOT.
  5. Get to the home directory on a Linux computer (e.g., cd ~).
  6. Access the console in programs and games such as Quake.
  7. In mathematics, ~ is used to indicate an approximate number.
  8. Access to the Tilda GTK+ terminal emulator.

How to get a tilde above a letter

To place a tilde, or another accent mark, above a letter on keyboards, use the character map, or use the "insert special character" feature of the program.

Keyboard terms